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Compare Solar Quotes: The Key Factors You Should Look Out For

Sep 24, 2021 | Industry Secrets, Solar, Solar 101, Trending Now

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After you’ve decided to go solar, you’d probably start requesting quotes or proposals from different companies. It is the beginning of an exciting journey. However, the complexity (and the fluffing!) of a solar quote can be quite overwhelming. In addition, each solar company has its own unique way of presenting its proposal, which makes it more difficult for homeowners to compare solar quotes.

In this article, we will break down the key factors that you should look out for when reviewing and comparing solar quotes.

Before reading any further, we suggest grabbing the FREE Quote Sample Guide with a detailed breakdown so you can follow what we are talking about.

1. Your Current Energy Usage

compare solar quotes

It’s very important to have a good understanding of how much electricity your house uses. A good solar proposal will include a thorough analysis of your annual household electricity consumption. This information is critical to determine how big of a system you will need to install. Remember to let the solar company know of any planned future upgrades or changes that will increase the energy consumption, such as having kids, purchase of an electric vehicle, or a hot tub installation.

You can cross-check this number by adding up your monthly energy usage, which can be found in your utility bills, for the last 12 months.

2. System Size and Cost

In most solar quotes, the company will recommend the system size based on the analysis of your energy usage. This number is usually expressed in kW or kilowatt. The proposal should also include an aerial photo of your property with the solar panels to give you an idea of how the system looks like after installation.

System cost is sometimes listed as “Total Loan Amount” or “Total Purchase Price”. It is the estimated total cost of your solar system, including the dealer fee and other upgrades or add-ons. In addition, the solar company should include the amount of federal tax credit and other incentives you can receive.

A common sales tactic used by unethical companies or sales reps is to recommend a system size that is way smaller than what the customer actually needs to cover their energy usage. This results in a lower overall system cost. However, you can end up pulling electricity from the utility company and paying a huge true-up bill at the end of the year.

Read More: Misleading Solar Sales Tactics to Avoid When Working with a Solar Salesperson

When you compare solar quotes from different companies, we do not recommend looking at the system cost alone because it can vary depending on the system size, the number of panels needed, and the equipment brands.

Price per watt ($/Watt) is a more useful metric to determine if you’re paying a fair price for your whole solar system.

Price per watt is not always included in a solar proposal. Here is how you can calculate it.
solar system price per watt

Once you have the price per watt of your system, check out this article to find out the average price per watt by state and by brand.

Read More: Why Are Solar Panels So Expensive?

3. Solar System Components

Any solar quotes you receive should have a list of components that make up your solar system. At the minimum, it should include the modules’ quantity, power capacities and brand, and the inverter’s brand. 

compare solar quotes

Not all solar equipment is created equal. Because of the differences in quality, efficiency, and warranty offers, pricing for solar panel systems vary greatly. 

Given the same roof and the same amount of sun rays, the modules (solar panels) with higher power capacities will produce more electricity. In another scenario, if you have a lot of shades that cover your roof, you might need to use better-quality solar panels with higher efficiency to cover your energy demand. 

Knowing the components of your solar system will allow you to do further research to determine if you receive a good quote or not.

4. Estimated Yearly Production – Offset

Yearly or annual production is the estimated amount of electricity generated by your solar system. Some companies express this number as “Year 1 Solar Production” and include the annual degradation percentage.

compare solar quotes

The weather changes every year. Therefore, it’s impossible to give an exact number of how much energy your solar system will produce. However, an experienced solar company should be able to make an accurate prediction to make sure that your system can cover your electricity demand. This way, you will maximize your savings.

Energy offset is the metric used to determine whether or not your solar system production can surpass your energy usage.

solar energy offset

Obviously, we all want the offset number to be 100% or more. However, this is not always achievable due to roof space, shades, or roof direction. If you’re not happy with your offset, make sure to have the installer do a site evaluation on your property to finalize the design and production estimate. 

5. Warranties

When looking at a solar quote, you want to find out exactly what the installer offers in terms of warranties. If the pricing and system size is similar between the two quotes, the warranty offer is what you want to consider when making your final decision. Typically, there are 2 types of warranties: (1) manufacturer warranties for each of the components, and (2) workmanship warranty. If you don’t work directly with a solar installer, make sure you find out who the installer is. 

Fortunately, the solar panel system requires minimal maintenance over the years. However, when you need to repair any part of the system, having a good warranty term will save you so much headache and money.

As of today, the industry-standard workmanship warranty is 5 to 10 years. There are also great solar installers that will offer 25 years warranty.

6. Payment Terms

Last but not least, it’s important to think about how you’re going to pay for your solar system. A solar proposal should outline the payment terms clearly, whether you choose to pay cash or finance.

compare solar quotes

Similar to any other big purchase, paying in cash will give you the lowest price possible and the highest return on your investment. However, this is not always a viable option. Luckily, there are many $0 down financing options available for you to pay for your solar system. If you’re not sure, communicate with your representative or the solar company you’re working with. 

When evaluating your solar proposal, make sure you carefully check for payment terms, interest %, and other fine prints. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your representative or the company to explain. Once you sign the final contract, you’re obligated to meet all of those payment terms and agreements. 

At the end of the day, keep in mind that the initial solar quote or proposal is just a preliminary offer. Any reputable solar company will make a great effort to work with you, redesign or change equipment and payment terms to accommodate your need. 

We hope you’ve become a quote-comparing expert by now. But if you still want to skip the work, check out our Free Quote Analysis Tool where we review, analyze, and compare solar quotes for you. Simply upload the solar proposals you received, we will send you back a full analysis and detailed breakdown of your proposals.

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